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Mac’s Convenience Stores pushes out offers to nearby mobile users to drive traffic

July 2, 2012

Mac’s Convenience Stores is rolling out push notifications to 1,400 locations enabling the company to deliver special offers and deals to nearby consumers.

The program works via antennas that are attached to the digital signage in the stores and which can recognize any mobile device within 300 feet. A message is pushed out to detected devices asking if the user would like to receive a special offer.

“The offers are very relevant, catching people with their phone in their pocket or hand and in the shopping environment with their wallet on them,” said Alex Romanov, CEO of iSign Media Solutions Inc., Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada.

“Research shows that there is a 72 percent chance that someone who receives a call-to-action that is relevant and in sight that they will act on it,” he said.

Push messaging
The iSIGN IMS mobile messaging systems are already in place at approximately 500 Mac’s locations in Canada and the company is now rolling out the program to approximately 900 additional Mac’s stores. iSign owns the approximately 5,800 digital signs in the Mac stores in Canada.

In the first two weeks of the program’s availability, offers and messages were pushed out to over 50,000 phones. iSign is currently recognizing 940,000 mobile devices that come within a 300-foot range of each store on a daily basis.

The response rate was 4 percent during this initial two-week period, with the initial offers consisting of an offer for $1 off a soda, a lemonade drink or a frozen drink.

The company plans to ramp up the program over the summer as it signs up advertisers and begins delivering more messaging.

Once the roll out is completed, the program is expected to reach the 1.5 million consumers that visit a Mac’s store on a daily basis.

The program initial began in March as a test in select stores in urban and rural areas to determine how customers would react to receiving the push messaging on their phones.

“There is a lot of discussion about privacy issues and marketers’ accessing people’s phone numbers,” Mr. Romanov said. “We don’t require the consumer’s phone number or name.

“Instead, we identify a 13-digit serial number that is on the Bluetooth chip in every phone,” he said.

So far, there have been no customer complaints, per Mr. Romanov.

Bluetooth technology
The system consists of a small antenna that plugs into a USB port on the digital signs.

The antennas use Bluetooth technology to broadcast permission-based, interactive messages to mobile phones.

Mobile phone owners will hear a beep when they receive a push notification from Mac’s. On the screen will be a message asking them if they would like an off from Mac’s.

If recipients say no, the message goes away that phone is not sent another offer. If they select yes, they receive the offer.

One benefit of the program is that because the offers are not being delivered through a carrier, there is no standard text charge associated with them.

The offer can be redeemed by showing it to a cashier in the store. There is a serial number on the coupon that the cashier can enter into the point-of-sale system and a bar code that can be scanned.

iSign is able to track how many messages were sent, at what time, what the message said and how many recipients accepted the message and how many redeemed the offer.

Mac’s Convenience Stores owns 1,435 Mac’s stores in Canada, 124 Circle K Stores in Canada and 5,700 Circle K stores in the United States.

“We are currently indentifying 940,000 mobile devices daily that come within a range of 300 feet of each store,” Mr. Romanov said. “What that gives advertisers is a proven, measured audience upfront.

“As we send advertisements, calls to action, coupons and messaging to these devices, we can actually log how many went out, what time, what the message was, how many were accepted and how many actually redeemed on the message,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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